MPA@UNC Student Spotlight: John-Mark Wilson

As a program that is dedicated to preparing tomorrow’s public sector, MPA@UNC prides itself on the diversity of its student body. From teachers and defenders of the law, to managers in nonprofits and local governments, the vast professional experience of our students reflects their desire to address the concerns of the public good.

In honor of Veterans Day, our first student profile features John-Mark Wilson, a military leader who is obtaining an MPA degree to propel himself to the next level of public service after his military career. His passion for public administration is rooted in the belief that our communities need public servants who are leaders of character to carry out the people’s business. Learn more about John-Mark in the interview below.

Why did you decide to pursue an MPA degree? Why did you choose MPA@UNC?

JMW: I am in the final years of my military career. Last year, I started to seriously consider my “next career.” A career in public administration appealed to me because after years of working to make a difference abroad, I want to make real contributions at home. MPA@UNC allowed me to pursue an MPA from a top-notch university while still serving in the military, making it possible for me to make a seamless transition in a couple years from the Army to a career in public service.

What excites you most about MPA@UNC?

JMW: I get to earn an MPA from a top-tier program while continuing to serve. I get the chance to work with professionals from different sectors and backgrounds, which greatly enriches my understanding of important issues.

What career path do you hope to pursue upon graduation?

JMW: My studies are ongoing so I have not settled on a specific career path. City management and planning are appealing options at this stage of my academic journey.

Tell me about your experience in the military. How has it contributed to your classroom experience? How will participating in MPA@UNC enhance your military career?

JMW: Like each of my classmates, my professional experience plays an important part in my MPA@UNC experience. As a military leader, I have had the chance to work in some demanding environments. I often draw from these experiences during class discussions. Over the course of my studies, I have discovered that public administrators and military leaders are guided by a similar set of professional ethics. Earning an MPA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will pay huge dividends to military leaders seeking advancement and better opportunities. The experience gives me greater academic depth, providing me with another arrow for my quiver.

What has been your favorite aspect of the program?

JMW: I have enjoyed taking advantage of all the research resources available through the UNC libraries. As a student, I get incredible access to scholarly material. Our professors are all experts in their fields and are very responsive to questions. One of my professors even met me on campus on a weekend to provide feedback on my research project.

If you could impart one piece of advice to anyone looking to pursue his or her MPA, what would it be?

JMW: Carefully plan your time. It is important to balance work, school, and family requirements. Give yourself enough time to reflect upon the readings and live sessions. Approach the MPA program as you would your job. It is important to show up prepared to make meaningful contributions to discussions and projects.

What does Veterans Day mean to you?

JMW: Veterans Day has always been a day to honor family and friends who have answered the nation’s call. It’s also a great day to knock out papers and catch up on readings.